Rani Taj beats the hell out of “Rude Boy”

Three of you sent me this video, so I get the feeling that you want SM to post about it. :) If only I hadn’t spent my entire Friday in meetings…you Left-coasters could’ve enjoyed an all-natural jolt from something besides your morning coffee. Better late than never, I always say. Type. Whatever.

I was confused by the video until about 15 seconds in; that’s when the performer suddenly transforms Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” from a song I rolled my eyes at to a joint which made me sit up straighter in my office chair. Do your thang, gurl, do your thang:

None of you knew who this fierce female was, so I scrolled through 281 YouTube comments– never, EVER doubt my fortitude or devotion to the Mutiny– and saw a name which I googled for a bit. I discovered this:

My name is Rani Taj. I am the first professional British-Kashmiri female dholi, trained by the Dhol Blasters and Azaad dhol where I am a senior player. I also dance with the Bhangra Blasters and love playing the dhol, especially at public events.

That’s from her criminally under-loved Facebook fan page. Really, world? Only three of you “like” Miss Taj? Forget desis needing to support Manoj Shymalan no matter what pap he may proffer, y’all need to fan the Queen of percussion. Yes, I said “y’all”. I already did. While it’s still public, toggle through her profile pics on Facebook; she channels David Bowie while in Desi clothes. All that flavor and she’s got the beat? Got damn, Batman.*

::

Yes, that is exactly how I intended to write it.

77 thoughts on “Rani Taj beats the hell out of “Rude Boy”

  1. Almost forgot, one last thing

    Fact, she loves playing the dhol, which promotes Punjabi culture.

    Not necessarily. The dhol may not even be of South Asian origin. Check it:

    The history of the dhol is not clear. One source of confusion may be that the origin of the term “dhol” may be different from the origin of the instrument itself. The word “dhol” is probably of Persian origin. It is probably derived from the Persian “dohol” or “duhul”. However images of dhol players appear to be present in the bas relief carvings on Indian temple walls from the earliest times. It is possible that both the instrument as well as the name have some deep Indo-European connection. However, at this point it is just really difficult to make any firm statement as to the origin of the instrument.

    [link]

    For those interested, here’s some Kurdish folk music accompanied with dohol that sounds very similar to what we hear in modern bhangra and Bollywood songs.

    So, what do we have? A Kashmiri girl, in England, identifying as Pakistani, playing a Punjabi instrument that may actually be Turkish in origin, being compared to German ultranationalists by haters in America. Oh, that sound you just heard? That was Thomas Friedman’s head asploding.

  2. So, let’s take away the Hitler comparison for a moment. Are we back to the assertion that everyone must put aside all aspects of the artist and focus solely on their skills? Chinatown gets Polanski a free pass for life, Freebird means Skynrd gets to wave its confederate flag (state’s rights!!!!!) all it wants without raising any eyebrows and Lethal Weapon I and II (we’ll ignore the rest of the series) means that Mr. Sugar tits’s career should be completely untainted by his rant du jour?

    I’m not saying that everyone should find Ms. Taj’s ideology or “likes” reprhensible. I AM saying that it is either remarkably naive or remarkably disingenious to tsk tsk those who might take strong exception to it or them. No doubt, the dealbreaker varies from person to person, but to pretend that everyone must, in all circumstances (or, more probably, in the circumstances you identify) dissociate a person’s ability in one area from his or her other attributes is patently unreasonable.

    Regarding said skills, I thought the idea was great and well executed, but it didn’t blow me away as as example of the musician’s particular viruosity. It may be because I don’t appreciate the skill that goes into that type of playing (perhaps Dave Grohl could drop by and give me pointers) or it may be, as others appear to have suggested, that this isn’t necessarily an example of great skill. If the argument is that the instrument itself is simple so one shouldn’t expect too much, then I’m not particularly moved by assertions of musical brilliance (unless I hear the same raving about the triangle player at the Philharmonic).

    Regardless, there’s no argument from me that the add-on made the original song a lot more palatable.

  3. Mackers, thank you for the sensible reply and the additional information about Rani’s groups. Appreciate it.

    An additional thank you to guest blogger DJ Drrrty Poonjabi, for wading in to the fray and initiating a constructive (and interesting) discussion.

    Seriously folks, there’s no need to invoke Hitler or the Nazis, every time.

  4. loads of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Taj Rani Chrisp !!! Now, thats how a dhol is played :) btw: when will people get over dishing each other… it’s amazing to see so much hatred just coz someone has differences you necessarily dont agree with. nyways, my best wishes to miss taj , the “Dhol Blasters” and “Azad Dhol” !!

  5. She revised her Facebook page to include her age:

    Basic Info Name:Rani Taj Category:Music – General Description:My name is Rani Taj and I am 16 years old. I am the first professional British-Kashmiri female dholi, trained by the Dhol Blasters and Azaad dhol where I am a senior player. I also dance with the Bhangra Blasters and love playing the dhol, especially at public events. Privacy Type:Closed: Limited public content. Members can see all content.

    Jesu Cristo! She’s just a baby! Can we please calm down now?

    I requested membership to her page three days ago but it’s hard to take the saffron threat out of a name like Shruti :) I blame haters like Budugu.

  6. I requested membership to her page three days ago but it’s hard to take the saffron threat out of a name like Shruti :) I blame haters like Budugu.

    How easy would it be if everybody conformed to your view of the world, wouldn’t it? Sorry for causing you inconvenience.

  7. She’s too cute! I didnt notice no damn flag. She’s young & impressionable anyway, she gets a pass. But hey did anyone notice it looked like she had some tobacco-stained teeth?! Or was it just my screen playing tricks on me? “Giddy up”!

  8. Re 42 and 48:

    Singh, perhaps you won’t object too much if I, a Bangladeshi Bengali with relatives and acquaintances who fought against and/or were killed by the Pakistanis in the 1971 war, and whose parents escaped the wholesale massacre of intellectuals by the skin of their teeth, were to present my views. Yes, the Bengali holocaust was terrible; almost everyone of my generation had lost someone in the war. And yes, it was a shame that we did not prosecute anyone for war crimes — that was a strategic decision made by Mujib to curry favour with other nations, and we can argue its merits elsewhere.

    But the individuals I and other Bangladeshis hold culpable for the holocaust are those actually responsible for it — the politicians who couldn’t countenance handing over the reins of government to a Bengali political party (the Awami League) which won the 1970 Pakistani General Election, and the Army officers and soldiers who willingly carried out genocide in an attempt to avoid this — not a young girl who wasn’t even born at that time. Tell me, do you routinely go around hounding the current generation of Germans as being responsible for Hitler’s and the Nazi party’s crimes?

    Frankly, I think it’s in rather poor taste to exploit what was and remains a national tragedy for my people and my generation for something as banal as hate-mongering.

  9. For the love of whatever is holy to each of you…could we stop making everything such a political issue! We need to learn reactions down a notch. Geez…

    Bottom line, an incredibly talented female dholi, regardless of politics (which, by the way, is mentioned NOWHERE in this video).

  10. I think she’s great n I’m goin to learn the dhol lol I always wanted to play it. She is wicked n every1 out there supports their country!! What’s wrong if she does the same … You are what you are & I mean she’s 16 .. Come on she ain’t gonna wave an American flag lmao

  11. hey, my parents r from hyderabad sindh when it was india. im sindhi but i was born in trinidad (caribbean). i saw rani’s link on fb and was blown away. im hindu but dont believe in all this hindu muslim fighting. u guys should come to trinidad and c how we live. this girl is amazing. she may actually have many opportunities in trinidad. we have 500,000 3rd and 4th generation indians here. they dont speak hindi or any other indian language but love their indian culture inclusive of pakistani, sri lankan, etc. rani has mad skilllzzz and could do quite a few shows here. support her dont bring her down, stop this stupid indo paki war, dont u think its abt damn time???

  12. Hi to all those at Sepia both readers and staff. Thank you all for the support you have shown my daughter Rani Taj. She is a 16 year old muscian/dhol player, from Birmingham, U.k. She fell in love with the dhol when she was around 9 and has never put it down. Her approach has always been one of playing dhol for all communities all over the world. She is a British-Asain teenager who is exploring and experimenting with her identity as many young people do at that age. Her aim has never been to cause offense to any persons but to play the dhol and hope that all those who listen to her play will enjoy it regardless of their gender, class, national identity, etc. We hope that you will continue to enjoy her work as much as she does and that her music will unite and not divide. Thank you once again for your support.

    Fardous Taj.

  13. “I don’t speak for anyone else here but I’m not South Asian. I have no connection to any religion, and no connection to India or Pakistan. So no, her politics, which faith or country or people she aligns herself with, and what flag she drapes on her instrument have absolutely no significance to me. Doesn’t matter at all and I don’t care. I enjoyed her drumming, and it’s my right to do so without getting involved in nasty name calling like some on this thread or hating on her because of who/what she supports.”

    If you’re not even South Asian then you should probably stay out of it. You don’t understand the emotions involved here. Frankly, for you to preach your opinion is actually quite arrogant and not required. I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong but you should think before you speak about issues about which you know nothing and never will.

  14. With all due respect, if the aim is to promote unity then perhaps Rani Taj should showcase an Indian and a Pakistani flag? Would that not show and encourage unity more?

  15. Just…wow. I was wholly unprepared for the petty, misguided, and arrogant reactions of many on this thread to what was a lovely demonstration of talent by a young dhol payer. I seriously can’t believe that some of you felt the need to hijack this conversation into an irrelevant political mess when we should be talking about so many other things. And to harass her (a 16 year old girl) into making her FB page private is just unconscionable.

  16. YES, you are the one who is simple-minded and ignorant….I applaud Rani for her musical skills. She is a beautiful and talented girl…I couldn’t believe that she’s only 16! I know she will go far with her accomplishments!

  17. The first thing that I felt when I saw the video was sheer joy in listening to the dhol, being played with such ease and in sync with the original Rihanna song. btw. Rihanna, is someone my kids would listen to.

    For me the dhol rendition to a Western song, first and foremost brought cultural pride. I have part Punajbi heritage as well. I was born after the partition of the sub-continent, but my parents and grandparents had relatives and close friends in what is today Bangladesh and Pakistan. As far as I have learnt, Punjabi’s on either side of the border are culturally no different. The dhol exists in North Indian, especially Punjabi culture.

    The dhol for me, while growing up always had an association of joy and celebration. So shared the link with my friends, and kids so they may also enjoy.

    After reading Rani Taj’s fb profile and also confirmed (above) by her mother Fardous Taj, I was further impressed that she was only 16 years old … a girl playing an instrument, always I have seen being played by guys.

    … so to Rani Taj : I very much enjoyed your sense of rhythm and confidence. You appear to enjoy playing the dhol … I say all power to you, and continue having fun and doing what you do best.

  18. Her FB page shows she is 16 yrs. I think ppl should stop criticizing her thinking of how they behaved when they are at 16. Btw.. I can’t believe she is just 16. And reg. her performance she is still a beginner itseems. But in the video the simple dhol beats are well matched with the song. But remember, it is just with this song. I have watched her other videos too.

  19. Her FB page shows she is 16 yrs. I think ppl should stop criticizing her thinking of how they behaved when they are at 16. Btw.. I can’t believe she is just 16. And reg. her performance she is still a beginner itseems. But in the video the simple dhol beats are well matched with the song. But remember, it is just with this song. I have watched her other videos too.

  20. Great Effort, Hope you will provide us Much more DOHL DHUN and full videos. Wish you Best of Luck BBaby

  21. hi my name is zafar i want to say u that u r loooook superb playing with u drum beat and i like the way u beat it with your hands. what a dholi you r woooooooooooooow. amazing, fabulousness and what should i say next i dont have more words for u baby. good luck from zafar and keep beating your dhold like this kind of rimix feat and ets songs. and i will goes on watching u next. good luck………………. zafar …..kamoke

  22. hi i m zafar and i like u very much rani coz of ur dhole beating its very enjoyble. i like the way u beat it on rimix and other songs what a amazing dholi u r i m ur big fan plz reply me ill wait for ur answer . i m from kamoke. goood luck from zafar keeep beathing like this dhamaal kamal

  23. Rani is a brilliant Dhol Player. She is too good. I wish to get her to perform in India fro my daughter’s wedding. Can someone get me her contact number or email id. Wonderful performer ! Harpreet SIngh CHEEMA Chandigarh (INDIA)